Top of the bill this weekend in the UK is the light-heavyweight rematch between British Commonwealth champion Lyndon Arthur and challenger Anthony Yarde.
Almost a year to the day they fought a highly competitive match which resulted in the Manchester man, Arthur winning by split decision. It took place behind closed doors in the midst of the COVID pandemic and on Saturday they’ll fight before a capacity crowd in the Copper Box Arena on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, east London.
It’s a highly anticipated contest after the quality of the first encounter and has significance at world level. The 12st,7lb (175lb) division is hot right now with quality Russian operator Artur Beterbiev the recognised champion, closely backed up by compatriot Dmitry Bivol and class operators Joe Smith Jr and Gilberto Ramirez.
Domestically, this is the deepest division. Undefeated world ranked Joshua Buatsi, former 168lb world champion Callum Smith and world contender Callum Johnson are all leading lights. The latter has just secured a second title shot against WBO champion Joe Smith Jr in New York state in January 2022.
Saturday’s contest pits the excellent skills of Arthur (19-0, 13 KO’s) against the bigger punching Yarde (21-2, 20 KO’s). The Hackney challenger was on a hot winning streak until he came up against former WBO champion Sergey Kovalev back in 2019 and despite flooring the champion was eventually stopped himself in an excellent performance. Since then he’s been beset with family traumas related to the COVID pandemic which may have affected his performance in the first Arthur contest. He points to his mind being in the right place this time round.
That simple explanation may discredit Arthur who put in an excellent performance behind an almost impenetrable left jab to just about inch the first fight. Although close, he was a worthy winner on the night.
Yarde will again be looking to make his superior power count in the early rounds and hanging a lot on an early stoppage victory. Whilst there is mutual respect shown by both fighters, both believe they are the superior technician and will prevail. It’s a real north v south clash with the boxer against the banger.
Arthur was the underdog going into the first contest and the tables are turned now. He enters as favorite, albeit a slim one, and the outcome in most rematches is a repeat of the first. However, Yarde knows his boxing future is on the line in this one and a second defeat to a domestic rival will set him back a number of years, maybe indefinitely. So, he will give it his all without doubt.
The Mancunian champion has the confidence of knowing he can beat his opponent and will be looking to higher things. This is unlikely to be a distraction and if he can keep his chin tucked in during the early rounds we expect Arthur to eek out another close, and maybe again, contentious decision.
Also on a good card are two prospects from Maidstone, Kent in SE England. Bantamweight Dennis McCann (10-0, 6 KO’s) is tipped for great things by Tyson Fury no less, and faces Juan Jose Jurado in an international contest. Lightweight Sam Noakes (7-0, 7 KO’s) faces Shaun Cooper for the WBC International ‘Silver’ title. Both are excellent fighters with a bright future and will be looking to win impressively on a high profile televised show. Both should have little trouble.
Finally, there’s a crossroads fight at super-welterweight (11st/154lbs) between Hamzah Sheerez (13-0, 9 KO’s) and former British welterweight champion Bradley Skeete (29-3, 14 KO’s). The latter is 34 years old and unlikely to upset the much younger prospect. It should though be a good educational fight for the to date impressive Sheerez, and stand him in good stead for future championship challenges.
Enjoy your fight weekend.
The card is promoted by Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions and televised live on BT Sport 1 in the UK from 19:30 GMT.